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Holding To The Light (Advent 2023, Week Four) : 'Light and Companionship'

Updated: Dec 26, 2023

'Through all darkness, all emptiness, all powerlessness,

I want to keep my eyes fixed on you and to remain under your great light.

O' My Beloved Star, so fascinate me that I may never be able to leave your radiance.'

(St Elizabeth of the Trinity)

As we prepare to move confidently and trustfully from Advent to Christmastide, we gaze afresh on the light that emanates from the Star shining bright above the town of Bethlehem, the site of the Nativity of Jesus Christ.

In these short weekly reflections we have considered 'recollection' as a means of witnessing anew the guiding hand of God in our lives. We have held to a deeper 'understanding' of goodness, of unity and the spiritual force of 'Love' that transcends the world and its fragmented state. We have considered how prayer and presence might enable us to respond to the call of 'authenticity'. However, within us, there may still persist a lingering sense of absence or distance as we edge towards Christmas time.

The Carmelite Tradition maintains a strong focus on the idea of a place of genuine 'encounter' with the divine, often referred to as 'the cell'. In many ways such an idea presents a further challenge in the course of our busy (..sometimes overwhelmingly so!) lives.

How are we to craft or designate such a space or 'a cell'? What significance or value will our own 'cell' hold? How might we ensure we stay in, or near to, any 'cell'?

To allow the flow and gifts of love into a space of seclusion can paradoxically shed light upon both our weaknesses and upon our courage. St Therese of Lisieux stresses the importance spiritually of being fully aware of both! It is no bad thing to encounter ourselves, as we truly are in the one given moment, ready to unravel, to loosen all the barriers and the blockages we construct, ready within the silence and intimacy of our 'cell'.

Reading the teaching of Jesus about prayer and right relationship with God in the Sermon On the Mount (Mt 6: 5-15) two things are made abundantly clear. One: 'go into your room and shut the door'. And two: 'your Father knows what it is you need'.

That form of reassurance in faith or 'radiance' is sustaining. Elizabeth of the Trinity knows it as her 'great light'. It is ever present. It is hopeful. It is the face of new born life, filled with potential. The seed of a new day . It is there to cover us and to fascinate us. To heal us and to spark us . It is companionship and relationship. And it remains at the heart of the Nativity Story.

A Very Happy Christmas from the AECI!!!

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